If you’ve been following the Game of Drams at all, you’d be aware that Dr Dram and I are huge fans of peated whisky. As such, I thought it would be appropriate that the topic of today’s review be one of my favourite classic drams and possibly the whisky that started the trend of drinking peated whiskies.
Lagavulin 16 Year Old
Category: Single Malt
Bottle Code: L5189CM000 (03338109)
Mashibill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: Bourbon Cask Matured & Sherry Cask Finished
Review & Tasting Notes
Nose: Bonfire at the seaside; strong peat, light iodine and vanilla, lovely oak and ham, rich mature sherry at the end.
Mouthfeel: Decadent; Smooth, rich, thick, oily, chewy goodness, mouthcoating; None to minimal burn.
Palate: Opens with rich oak, followed by roaring peat smoke that grows to the finish. Background flavours of salt, dark fruit and caramel sweetness with some sort of hint of citrus.
Finish: Long and elegant; A lovely mixture of peat, salt and fruit sweetness; It drags you in and makes you want another
Note: I wanted to complete these notes as a blind tasting, but as soon as I smelled the aromas I knew what I had in my glass. There is nothing quite like Lagavulin.
Update Jan 2017: I’ve finished off a few other bottles of Lagavulin 16 (all bottled in 2010). My tasting notes remain the same but I’ve had to adjust my scoring. I’ve decreased the mouthfeel, palate and finish all from 5.0 to 4.5 due to the slight lack of each compared to higher strength bottlings . This brings the total score from 5.0 down to 4.6. It hurts me to do it but it needs to be done.
My tasting notes may seem a bit biased but I absolutely love this whisky. For me it’s a shining example of what a peated whisky should be; well rounded, full bodied, thick peat with lovely sweetness while being rich and oily to the point of almost being creamy.
There is a debate amongst some as to whether Lagavulin 16 year old is solely matured in ex-bourbon casks or if it is sherry finished. In all honestly, I have never had anyone from Diageo guarantee that they use sherry casks, but I don’t doubt the sweetness comes from refill sherry casks.
From my perspective, there isn’t much debate about whether you should buy a bottle of Lagavulin 16 or not… it’s a debate of how many you should buy. I always have 3 bottles in the house…
Unfortunately though, due to the success of this whisky in popular culture (mostly notably as being the preferred whisky of my television hero and man-crush subject Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation”) it is almost impossible to find this bottle at prices that have not been marked up compared to years past. I used to be able to purchase this bottle for about $56USD from my local Costco, but it seems that those days are gone. So while I adore this whisky, at a $100USD price-point the value for money definitely takes a hit… but still worth it in my mind.
Update Jan 2017: Prices of Lagavulin 16 Year old seem to have dropped back to around $60. Happy days!
This tasting was completed at the request of a fellow blogger (Gentleman Grimm). I guess he heard how much I love Lagavulin, but noticed that I had no tasting notes posted… thanks for pushing me to write down my notes. This one’s for you Grimm.
Note: I am usually a proponent for adding water to whisky to open up the nose and palate to more subtle flavours, but Lagavulin 16 is the exception to the rule. I suggest you try it for yourself if you’re curious, but Lagavulin is bottled at 43%abv which is already diluted a bit too much for my tastes.